Posted: November 29, 2013
I want to start here: I love this game. The review that follows may sound critical at times but only because this is an "Icarus" game for me, i.e. it fell apart only because it got so close to the sun.
I've heard some people complain that the game is too difficult, but I disagree. The difficulty felt a lot like Guitar Hero. Do you remember how you could barely keep up with songs on easy or medium the first time you played? But after trying a song on hard a few times, suddenly going back to medium felt like a cake walk? CSD is a lot like that. You can barely keep up with the small customer queue and simple orders at first, but you get used it and CSD has a wonderful, smooth difficulty curve. Eventually, you'll find yourself humming along quite nicely with an 8 person queue and all kinds of complex recipes.
I really liked the mini-games that were built into the progression as well. Each of them was a nice change of pace and provided an interesting spin on the core mechanic. I also liked the way the game felt. It is very responsive and I could easily get into a rhythm on the PC version. FWIW, I much prefer the PC version to the iOS version. I was able to get into a satisfying muscle memory groove on PC and that's exactly what a wanted. A challenging game using muscle memory and twitch-based time/efficiency management.
This game is so close to being perfect that I ended up more disappointed than perhaps I should be. I still readily recommend the game but with a caveat. I've put 30 hours into the game, completed the main game progression and all side challenges, purchased every recipe, every ClicknStart project and anything else I could use money for. After completing the game and playing a little beyond that, I have not yet received the 10K customers served achievement and there is still a 15k served achievement after that. However, I have no desire to grind it out. There isn't a point other than completionist satisfaction.
My enjoyment came primarily from completing challenges and those have run out. I think this game could easily be a 10/10 for me with a couple minor additions:
1) A challenge list that requires you to complete a perfect day with certain recipe combinations. The list could be huge as there are many possible combinations. Some would be very simple using the beginner recipes but some would be very challenging if you require 4 and 5 star variants of the difficult items. Perhaps this mode would only unlock after all recipes have been maxxed out for further end-game enjoyment.
2) Expand on the mini-games. Similar to the above suggestion, have the gameshow mini-game force some challenging combinations and building up to harsher and harsher queuing restraints.
3) Leaderboards so you can create your own challenges based on competitive spirit.
The core for all these things is already present in the game, it just needs to be fleshed out a little. The developers did an amazing job of creating a wonderful difficulty curve and establishing a solid play mechanic that's fun and rewarding. If a later patch adds some challenges to overcome, such as my suggestions, I can recommend this game without any hesitation whatsoever. It would be top of the class for the genre. As is, I can only recommend it with the caveat that it is fun for 20-30 hours and then loses its appeal.
Like I said originally though, I loved the game and only criticize it because it comes so close to being truly great. But try it out! It's cheap and even with my caveat, you're still purchasing a game that provides fun a rate of less than a half cent per minute. Hard to beat that!